Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a land far away, I was a young nurse in an operating room.
It was a medium-ish general hospital. We did all kinds of cases. I still remember many of mine. One of them more than most.
Our patient was five years old, about a year older than my Dave at the time. She had a broken arm. Badly broken.
I’m not sure how she got to the ER. In any event, her parents could not be located.
She needed surgery to fix her arm.
She couldn’t have surgery until someone signed the consent forms.
The Emergency docs splinted her arm temporarily and gave her something for pain. I’m not sure she hurt less, but she was sleepy.
Then, they put her in a stainless steel crib with a lid on top and sent her to us, while our front office kept looking for her parents.
First she whimpered in that crib. Then she cried. Then she wailed.
The surgeon had one comment to make. (Read that, one order to give.)
Somebody do something!
Being a young mom, perhaps I seemed like the obvious choice. One of the techs dragged a rocking chair down the hall from the Recovery Room and I sat, with a lap full of pillows while our patient was lifted into my arms. And then I did what moms and grammies everywhere have done throughout the ages. I rocked and I sang.
For four hours.
Until her parents were found.
She did great!
I was traumatized for years.
But I learned something that day. Something that made the trauma worthwhile, at least for me.
Well, two things, actually.
First, that people really do rise when called upon.
Second, do not keep your grandkids, or leave your kids, without a signed consent form for emergency treatment. When Dave was small, there was one taped to the inside of a kitchen cabinet at all times. Obviously, check the laws where you live and the policies of your insurance company. Your hospital or doctor may have sample forms.
These days, I have a file on my computer and a printed copy in case my girls should need emergency care when they’re with us. Include known allergies for each child. (Don’t count on remembering all the details if the wailing one is one you love!)
Sand castles and summer day camp and sunny hours in the garden are way more fun.
This, however, is part of the big leagues for the Fiercely Compassionate Grandmothers! I’m speaking out about health care on several levels. This is one level where it’s easy to make a difference for good. At least the good that comes from peace of mind.
And, amazingly, more peace of mind will help change the world for the better.
Oh! An important PS – In most states, if you call an ambulance for an emergency and they begin treatment, they have to continue appropriately even without signed consent. My dear daughter-in-law, Kelly, who is a Physician’s Assistant, says that many facilities will treat in a true emergency but a signed consent form is helpful to start treatment in situations which are not true emergencies. If there are special considerations such as a DNR or restrictions on blood products, etc., paperwork must be present. (You’ll want to check this out, too. Who knows how the rules may change, but this was my fail-safe plan during all my years of summer camp and youth ministry.)
And one more! Check your cell phone. Mine has a white square with a red heart among the app icons. When you click it, you get a health tool with various functions. One of them is emergency medical information. See what the options are in your phone. It might be a huge help!
And just one more! The four-footed kids are headed to summer camp, too. I leave a similar signed permission to treat form with the Camp Director and my vet. That way, I can take care of them even when I can’t be there. And I sleep better. Even on the West Coast!